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    September 23, 2017

    Do you have children, or do you have links to a school in your community? Perhaps you’re a teacher or work in a school in some other capacity?

    If you can get your local school involved and interested in supporting refugees, you might be really surprised by the results.

    For teachers, talking about refugees provides a way for children to experience the wider world around them, by hearing people’s stories and imagining how they would feel in a similar situation.

    For parents, you might be surprised at how engaged the children become with the issues, and just how much they get out of it.

    Watch teachers, pupils and parents at Edmison Heights School in Peterborough, Canada, talking about what how they all loved doing their bit for a local refugee family.

    September 22, 2017

    The BC Utility Commission’s interim report on the Site C megaproject – released on Wednesday – provides further proof that the federal and provincial governments acted irresponsibly when they granted approval for construction of the massively destructive dam.

    “The interim BCUC report confirms what so many of us have been saying all along: there’s simply no credible rationale for the devastating harm that would be caused by the flooding of the Peace River Valley,” said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations.

    In its interim report, the BCUC said that it did not have enough information yet to offer a conclusion on the costs of continuing construction versus suspending or cancelling the project. However, the report does set out a number of concerns about how BC Hydro is forecasting future energy needs. The interim report also states that if greater capacity is actually needed in the future, alternative sources such as biomass, geothermal and solar need to be considered. The report noted that information provided by BC Hydro reflects an “implicit assumption” that Site C is the only option that would be pursued.

    September 22, 2017

    By: Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the UN General Assembly that Canada is prepared to learn “the difficult lessons” of its long history of mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples and, as a result, other countries have much to learn from Canada’s example.

    “We know that the world expects Canada to strictly adhere to international human rights standards including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and that’s what we expect of ourselves too,” is how he framed the imperative. 

    Ironically, the prime minister’s presentation to the General Assembly came less than a month after the UN’s top anti-racism body sharply rebuked his government for dodging its responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples, even as immediate action is urgently needed.

    Read Alex's full OPED in the Ottawa Citizen.

    September 22, 2017

    What companies are big in your country? Who employs a big workforce where you are? You could enlist these companies or individuals in helping refugees too.

    Around the world, lots of businesses have either made it a policy to employ refugees, or have created dedicated training schemes to equip refugees with skills that a local employer will recognise.

    For example, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Toronto, Canada, has a six-week training course in hospitality specifically for refugees. Watch their General Manager talking about how the scheme is a win-win for them.

    All it takes is for you to ask – so you could approach businesses in your community and ask them to make a specific commitment to train or employ refugees.

    Learn more:

    They fled war in Syria. Today, they manufacture emergency equipment for Canadians (National Observer)

    September 21, 2017
    Ed Sheeran playing in Washington

    On 20 September, across more than 200 cities in 60 countries, musicians, artists, activists and local communities came together in a statement of support for the world’s refugees.

    Give a Home, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds, saw living rooms across the globe play host to more than 300 special performances from some of the world’s leading musicians.

    The gigs, which included performances from Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Jessie Ware, Rudimental, Sauti Sol, Freshlyground, Ludovico Einaudi, the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, Mashrou’ Leila, Faarrow and many more, were all about celebrating a single message of solidarity: Refugees are welcome.

    At a time when the plight of refugees the world over is in the headlines on a daily basis, and with governments pursuing ever more restrictive policies to keep refugees out, it’s a message that’s more urgent now than it’s been in most of our lifetimes.

    September 21, 2017

    “Canada is built on the ancestral land of Indigenous peoples but regrettably it is also a country that came into being without the meaningful participation of those who were there first. And even where Treaties had been formed to provide a basis for proper relations, they have not been fully honoured or implemented.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressing the UN General Assembly the day after an interim report on the Site C dam was released

    “The joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment of the Site C dam was clear that flooding the Peace River Valley would destroy hundreds of graves and other cultural sites and cause severe, permanent and irreversible harm to the natural environment on which we rely. All this was pushed aside in the rush to build Site C.” Prophet River Chief Lynette Tsakoza responding to the Site C interim report

    Three years ago, the federal government approved one of the most environmentally destructive resource development projects in Canada, over the opposition of profoundly affected First Nations.

    September 21, 2017
    Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc with the Syrian Family he sponsored

    Lots of the examples and stories shared over the past 20 days have been from Canada, and that’s for a very good reason. Canada has had a private refugee sponsorship programme that has existed since the 1970s, and has resettled tens of thousands of refugees through private sponsorship

    Here is a video with Canadian sponsors, and refugees, talking about the scheme and why it is so important.

    Does this sound like something you would like to be part of?

    Contact the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program to find about about refugee sponsorship opportunities in Canada



    See all refugee stories

    September 20, 2017

    What are you good at? You may find that one of your key skills is actually something you could share with refugees.

    Do you speak another language? If there are refugees that need help with interpreting, you could volunteer your skills and make a vital difference.

    Perhaps you are a teacher of your native language? It is crucial for refugees to learn the language in the country they want to settle in, so you could volunteer to teach them, even in the short-term.

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    September 19, 2017

    September 19, 2017 — Today, 40 organizations and individuals from across Canadian civil society issued a joint letter to government that lays out overarching concerns with Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters. Bill C-59 makes some meaningful and necessary improvements to Canada’s national security regime, but it fails to reverse the legacy of its unpopular predecessor, Bill C-51, and introduces serious new problems. It specifically falls short in mitigating the discriminatory impact national security activities continue to have on vulnerable minorities, which has in the past included conduct that contributed to the torture of Canadians. 

    The signatories all share the concern that — despite the message clearly delivered by Canadians during the federal government’s extensive public consultation on national security — the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter are still not where they belong, at the core of Canada’s national security framework.

    September 19, 2017
    Kenzu Abdella outside the restaurant he helped set up in Peterborough, ON

    One thing a refugee in your community will need is a way to earn a living. They may have been a well respected and highly skilled professional in their country, but they also may find that none of their experience or skills are recognised now.

    Some decide to try something completely new, using skills they gained before.

    Mohammed Alftih was a businessman with decades of experience behind him in Syria, printing T-shirts that were exported, mostly to Europe. When he fled Syria with his family, and finally was resettled in Peterborough, Canada, he didn’t know where to start. But his wife, Randa, was becoming famed locally for the delicious food she cooked for family and friends. So, together with a friend Mohammed made at the mosque, Kenzu Abdellah, they decided to set up a business of their own, with the Oasis Mediterranean Grill, known as OMG.

    September 18, 2017

    There are lots of people – politicians, celebrities, thought leaders - around the world who care deeply and passionately about refugees.

    You can learn from them and you can help highlight what they say and do on social media.

    Find those key, influential people and follow them – share what they post, tell them about what you’re doing as they may share this with their own networks, and you might be surprised at how much you get out of this.

    Take Councillor Joe Mihevc, for example. He is City Councillor in Toronto and is also the refugee advocate for the city of Toronto. Himself the son of refugees, he feels it was “part of his DNA” and he is passionate about welcoming refugees to Toronto and making sure they settle well.

    You can find out more about Joe here:

    There are many people like him, perhaps even some in your local area, so find them and follow what they do and say to help spread their influence even further.

    September 17, 2017

    Today, we want you to hear and share stories of refugees.

    Whether you go along to a refugee group in your community and hear stories told there, or just read the many stories about refugees on UNHCR’s website, listen to people’s stories as this is the best way to understand the issues facing refugees.

    The more you listen, the more you ask questions, the better you will understand refugees and see that these are just people in a really difficult situation.

    And you might be surprised about how much you get from this experience.

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    September 16, 2017
    	Nour Ammana prepares Oúzi, a Syrian street pastry, in her shop Beroea Box in Market 707 in Toronto.

    What are you interests or passions? Do you love eating out, or going to the theatre, for example? Or do you feel like trying something you’ve never done before?

    There may be refugees groups in your community who organize activities which you would enjoy. By taking part in these events, you can learn about another culture through food or art or music. This, as Amir and Noor explained, helps keep these cultures alive.

    September 15, 2017

    You’ve shown until now how much you care, so could you befriend a refugee and help them settle into your local community?

    You may have to do a bit of research to find a local group that can facilitate this, but a good first place to check is with the organizations that provide services to refugees in your Community

    Refugees that have the support of local people tend to settle in much better, so you would be making a huge difference to their lives.

    It could be just a question of meeting someone for a coffee every now and then, to help them work out any issues they may have, or you could be a lot more hands-on and help a recently arrived refugee family navigate the welfare system in your country or register in school or learn to speak English. 

    September 14, 2017
    Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc with the Syrian Family he sponsored

    It can feel overwhelming trying to work out how to help in something as massive as the global refugee crisis.

    Well, never forget that as well as being a global refugee crisis, it’s also a local one, as so many communities now have refugees living within them.

    So, remember – you are not alone and you don’t have to act on your own - there’s an incredible network of people across villages, towns, countries, globally, who are already really involved, it’s just a question of finding other like-minded people.

    And that’s really easy to do - look for groups in your local community who are supporting refugees. 

    So today, look into what support groups and activities there are in your community or country. And if you don’t find what you need, contact us to brainstorm for ideas about how you can get involved in your community. 

    You can make a massive difference. Thanks again for your support.

     

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